Fit to Paddle

The Paddler’s Guide to Strength and Conditioning by Rocky Snyder

As the two-time defending world champion in the sport of Open Canoe Rodeo and a six year veteran of the creek racing circuit, I have spent countless hours worrying about keeping my body at a peak performance level.  Every other year I need to be ready to hold off the challenges presented by my younger competitors.  Although I have never spent a lot of time in the gym, I have worked at keeping my muscles strong while maintaining flexibility.

Like Rocky, I was introduced to canoeing through the Boy Scouts.  On my path to the rank of Eagle, I learned how to set high goals for myself that I could achieve with a visual plan.  When I graduated college, I followed the same formula to complete my goal of being the best canoeist in the world.  Fit to Paddle gives structured progressions to successfully build endurance, power, and flexibility in a paddling specific format.

As I have begun to move into the realm of instruction, I have recommended many different texts for my students to be aware of.  Fit to Paddle offers the everyday paddler a self-stylized program to keep their body in shape with minimum time expended.  This is an excellent resource for camp counselors looking for fun drills and activities, experienced paddlers looking for better stretching exercises or anyone who wants to condition their body and stay active.

My own training consists of spending as much time on the water as possible.  I add to this several yoga poses and try to stretch whenever I have a free moment.  I typically prefer pull-ups, sit-ups, and push-ups to traditional gym exercises due to my traveling lifestyle.  Rocky has gathered many excellent exercises that will ensure a paddlers conditioning and these exercises can be performed wherever and whenever one chooses.  I have added a stability ball to my own training program to incorporate added balance to go with the strength I maintain.

Not all exercises are for everyone, but I am sure that with a little time and effort exerted in the exercises you choose, you will be rewarded with vast improvements in both your paddling and your energy level.  As your endurance and strength increases, your paddling strokes and movements will be more powerful and you will be able to have more fun.

I look forward to seeing you on the water with a smile on your face!  Good Luck!

Eli Helbert
Two-Time World Champion of Open Canoe Rodeo

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